The Criminal's War: The European Hunger Games
In the ruins of a place once known as Europe lies the region of Lavinia, made up of ten different countries; Britannia, which governs Lavinia, Germania, Frankland, Swizlova, Latinia, Austino, Ukresia, Estolavia, Ruska, and Polskina, which was responsible for the one and only horror of Lavinia, the Criminal's War. The Criminal's War is a series of games held every two years, in which fifty criminals are placed in the arena to kill each other off. There are no winners. Only death.
Lavinia: Land of Peace, Ties and Hunger
I hide under the stack of wood in the corner of the alley, the warm loaf of bread safe in my skeletal arms. My stomach, approximately the size of a shriveled apricot, rumbles loudly, yearning to taste the sweet aroma that the food spreads. My fingers peel at the crust of it and I feel saliva gathering in my mouth. I'm not sure how long I will be able to resist--I don't even know why I am resisting.
With a final sigh, I tear a chunk off and stuff it into my mouth. It tastes even better than it smelled to me. I moan loudly and stuff more into my mouth, until I'm sure I resemble a squirrel who has just gathered his nuts. I try to chew it until they are mere crumbs, and then I swallow. The important lesson my parents taught me: chew as much as you can, it will give your mind the illusion you have eaten more. Wait five minutes before wolfing the rest of your meal down--you might already be full, and if you continue eating, you will barf it up later.
So I wait, as horrible as it is, and to my own surprise, ascertain that my shrunken stomach is indeed full. Malnourishment does that to you, I think grimly, glancing at my whole frame. It isn't what it used to be. When puberty hit me, I turned into a walking stick--of doom, as some of my friends added.
I stuff the bread down my shirt, creating a rather bulging stomach. People will think I'm pregnant, which isn't so unusual in Britannia--they stopped producing birth control and condoms a couple of decades ago in this part of Lavinia, claiming that it was because of lack of resources. Of course, we all knew why: the population was--and still is--declining. In order to keep the economy going, we all have to contribute our fair share to society. Not that the authorities force us to do anything--to the contrary. They have stern laws, but they allow us to live the way we want, on the condition that we do not steal or murder. Of course, with the lack of food in some families, they can't help but steal.
I am one of those people.
If I get caught, I will go to prison. If I go the prison, I will have to compete in the Criminal Wars--which means I will either be slaughter brutally, or win the prize: a quick execution by the military squad of Lavinia. There are no champions in the Criminal Wars. Ironically, its motto is, "We all die."
Some of us just die sooner than others.
I scurry home in the dark, food stuffed in places I will not discuss, my stomach full and heavy. I feel sick with the amount of food Iâ€™ve eaten, but it isn't often that I have so much luck--the man who was selling his goods either wasn't paying proper attention or he pitied me. I have good reason to suspect the first: he and I aren't what you call close. He one caught me stealing an apple and threatened to tell the Ties--our slang for the Sentinels, the people who keep everyone in check in Lavinia. It is to mock the Sentinels' outfits: brown, bulletproof suits with ties and a leather cap that is connected under the chin. They look like the turtles I sometimes see on the market.
The door is still open; my parents must know I was coming home tonight. It makes the pit of my stomach warm a little, and in gratitude I leave a fair share of my stolen goods on the table before I sneak upstairs and put the rest under my bed. My covers are already open, ready to welcome me into warm, peaceful sleep; sleep which never comes.
Because I know that sooner or later, arrogance will get me caught.